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From Global to City Air - Earth Science Lessons

Students use Flash animations along with hands-on activities to investigate air movement in the lungs and landscape, the effect of particulate matter in the lungs, and how air quality is impacted by city growth and landscape. Movement and structure of air and water, contaminants in the air and water, and microclimates are the underling topics addressed in this unit. Students’ work in this unit provides the necessary science background students will need to complete the final project - the creation of a city with minimal air and water pollution, conducive to positive human health.

Content standards addressed by this unit are within the Earth and Space standards. Specifically, this unit deals with those targeting energy in the earth system.

Threaded Big Idea
Water and air pollution are transported from place to place via global air and water patterns.
Essential Question
How do global weather patterns affect pollution?
Learning Cycle
Lesson Title & Description
Objective
Students will:
Class period & week
Engage
How’d That Pollution Get There?
During this lesson, students are introduced to the issue of air and water pollution by sharing prior knowledge and reading an overview of the global pollution problems.
Read about pollution and the identify currents pollution uses as a vehicle for dispersal

2 class periods
Week 1

Explore
Pollution
Over Where?
In this lesson, students will predict the movement of an air borne pollutant using their understanding of air currents.
Predict movement of fictitious pollution using knowledge of air and water currents.
2 class periods
Week 2
Explain
Tanker Spill
Students will predict the course of flow of an oil spill taking into consideration ocean currents and density.

Acid Rain
While the human health impacts from acid rain are not direct, the pollutants which cause acid rain, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) do damage human health (EPA Acid Rain & Human Health).

Use ocean current information to predict the flow of an oil spill.

 

 

Determine the likelihood of acid rain afflicting differing regions of the US.

2 class periods
Week 4

 

 

2 class periods
Week 6

Apply
Pollutant Posters
During this lesson students will apply their understanding of weather systems, air currents, and pollution to create an informational poster that will be presented in a mini science forum.
Explain how different pollutant affect air quality and human health
2-3 class periods
Week 6
Project
Building the Perfect City  
5 class periods
Week 8

 

Big Idea
Solar radiation heats the Earth unevenly causing changes in air pressure which drives global air circulation. As high-pressure systems rush in to take the place of low-pressure areas, heat and moisture are transferred resulting in differing climates in different locations.
Essential Question
What causes the patterns of air motion on a global scale?
Learning Cycle
Lesson Title & Description
Objective
Students will:
Class period & week
Engage
Fallout!
In this lesson, students will plot the locations of fallout from two disasters that polluted much of the world’s air. First, they will plot the ash fallout from the 1980 Mt. St. Helen’s eruption to see what the wind patterns in the United States look like overall.
Plot fallout locations to determine the location and direction of the Westerlies.

2 class periods
Week 1

Explore

World Wide Winds
In this lesson, students will observe a variety of computer models showing wind, cloud, and pollution movements over the globe.

Looking at trade winds, Westerlies, polar winds,

1 class periods
Week 1

Explain

Atmospheric Cells
In this lesson, students will explore the idea of the sun as a central force in the development of atmospheric convection cells.

Winds Go Spinning Around
In this lesson, students will simulate the Coriolis Effect to understand why winds in the Westerlies are prone to cyclonic and anti-cyclonic motion.

Recognize air moves in cells much like the mantle and moves air from high pressure zones to low.

 

Recognize how the Coriolis force and Jet Stream moves air.

2 class periods
Week 2
Apply
Pollution Over Where?
In this lesson, students will predict the movement of an air borne pollutant using their understanding of air currents.
Predict movement of fictitious pollution using knowledge of air and water currents.
2 class periods
Week 2

 

Big Idea
Air currents, salinity, and solar radiation drive ocean currents around the world.
Essential Question
What causes the patterns of air motion on a global scale?
Learning Cycle
Lesson Title & Description
Objective
Students will:
Class period & week
Engage
Message in a Bottle
Students will investigate the motion of water currents by mapping the possible movement of messages cast into the ocean in bottles.
Plot locations of objects to determine the direction of flow of surface ocean currents

2 class periods
Weeks 2 and 3

Explore
Currents
Students will conduct a variety of investigations to see how water, heat, and salinity affect the flow of the world’s ocean currents.
Describe the roles of wind, temperature, and salinity in surface and deep ocean currents.
3 class periods
Week 3
Explain
Current Interactions
Students will design a simulation to explore how water, heat, and salinity affect the flow of the world’s ocean currents. They will present their results to the class.
Design an experiment to explain how wind, temperature, and salinity work influence each other with respect to driving currents.
3 class periods
Week 3 and 4
Apply
Tanker Spill
Students will predict the course of flow of an oil spill taking into consideration ocean currents and density.
Use ocean current information to predict the flow of an oil spill.
2 class periods
Week 4

 

Big Idea
Proximity to water and elevation can dramatically affect the climate in a location.
Essential Question
How do natural and manmade landforms affect climate and weather?
Learning Cycle
Lesson Title & Description
Objective
Students will:
Class period & week
Engage
Climate Patterns
Why do climate patterns vary across the country?
Compare temperatures and rainfall in the United States

2 class periods
Week 4 and 5

Explore
Rain Shadows and Sea Breezes
Where toxicants of environmental health importance are transported through the air, understanding the natural processes, which contribute to air movement and weather patterns of a region, is important.
Explain how landforms can affect climate
2 class periods
Week 5
Explain

Air Masses
Where toxicants of environmental health importance are transported through the air, understanding the natural processes which contribute to air movement and weather patterns of a region is important.

Cold Fronts
Where toxicants of environmental health importance are transported through the air, understanding the natural processes contributing to air movement and weather patterns of a region is important

Categorize air by describing similarities and differences in temperature and dew point.

 

 

 

Compare characteristics of cold fronts

1 class period
Week 5

 

 

 

 

1 class period
Week 5

Apply
Acid Rain
While the human health impacts from acid rain are not direct, the pollutants which cause acid rain, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) do damage human health (EPA Acid Rain & Human Health).
Determine the likelihood of acid rain afflicting differing regions of the US.
2 class periods
Week 6

 

Big Idea
Micorclimates are zones where the climate differs from the surrounding area (such a large building or near cities.) Building height and placement and manmade pollutants can alter microclimates.
Essential Question
How do humans affects microclimates?
Learning Cycle
Lesson Title & Description
Objective
Students will:
Class period & week
Engage
What makes the Air Brown?
The students are engaged by the following problem: If cars put particulate matter in the atmosphere, how can this particulate matter can be captured and measured?
Observe pollutants in the air

2 class periods
week 7

Explore
What’s the Connection Between Convection and Inversion?
During this lesson students will observe a simulation demonstrating the difference between connection and inversion.
Observe the difference between convection and inversion
1 class period
week 7
Explain
CO Buildup City
During this lesson students will use a computer simulation to explain the relationship between city size, temperature, and air quality.
Conduct a controlled experiment determining causes of poor air quality
1-2 class periods
week 7
Apply
Pollutant Posters
During this lesson students will apply their understanding of weather systems, air currents, and pollution to create an informational poster that will be presented in a mini science forum.
Explain how different pollutant affect air quality and human health
2-3 class periods
week 7

 


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:


an
NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award

LOGO - SWEHSC
LOGO - NIEHS Center LOGO - NIEHS

Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694


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Last update: November 10, 2009
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